Tape is tape, right? Eh, wrong! The debate over duct tape vs Gorilla Tape is ongoing, so we’re here to try to provide a little more fuel to the fire.
The reality is that both of these tapes have their ideal applications. In other words, there are certain things for which you should use duct tape instead of Gorilla Tape, and vice versa.
Our goal for this guide is to outline those specific uses and provide a clearer idea of the differences between these two tapes. Since we mainly cover kayaking, paddleboarding, and other active sports in this blog, we’ll also suggest some things you might use either of these tapes for in those activities.
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So let’s get started!
- What is Duct Tape?
- What is Gorilla Tape?
- What Are The Differences Between Duct Tape and Gorilla Tape?
- What Other Kinds of Tape Are There?
- So, Which is Better For You?
- Final Thoughts
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To set the record straight from the outset, duct tape is what many people call “duck” tape and, indeed, there is even a single brand of duct tape that goes by that name. There are many colors of duct tape out there, but the most common are silver, clear, and black.
Actually, the reason behind the confusion between “duct” tape and “duck” tape dates back to World War II. At the time, the US military was struggling to keep water out of ammunition cases and Johnson & Johnson responded.
They manufactured what we know as “duct” tape today, but they called it “duck” tape because of its waterproof characteristics that they designed to mimic how water flows off a duck’s back. It wasn’t until after the war that users figured out its effectiveness at sealing joints in heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) ductwork.
It is also sometimes called cloth tape because it can be relatively easily torn by hand. It has reasonable strength and water resistance and can be used for both indoor and outdoor purposes.
Duct tape is made with three layers: a top layer made of polythene, a middle layer of fabric, and a bottom layer of rubber-based glue. The fabric is first covered in melted polythene, which helps to protect it from moisture.
That coating retains enough flexibility for the tape to stick to rough, uneven surfaces while it doesn’t compromise the fabric’s ability to be easily torn.
In addition to coming in many different colors, duct tape is available in varying widths and lengths. If you search carefully, you may even find glow-in-the-dark duct tape and double-sided duct tape.
Duct tape is also available in varying grades, also known as strengths. A tape’s grade refers to how it is made-the type of adhesive applied and the strength of its cloth backing. The more threads that are used in a tape’s cloth backing, the stronger it will be.
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Because there are many different types of duct tape, there is a wide range of uses for this product. Double-sided duct tape, for example, can be very useful for adhering two surfaces together without leaving any tape visible.
Glow-in-the-dark duct tape comes in handy for Halloween decorations and illuminating stuff set in dark environments, while colored duct tape is great for matching to whatever you need to apply the tape to without it looking odd.
In general, however, the most common uses for duct tape include packing boxes, patching holes, minor repairs, and for sealing cracks. Some variations can stick to many surfaces, including wood, plaster, stone, metal, and brick.
Aside from general uses, there are some not-so-obvious uses for a product like duct tape. For our purposes, it can be used to patch inflatable kayaks or stick kayaking accessories to the outside of your vessel.
Boaters often use it for repairing lines or patching holes in upholstery, but these are considered to be very temporary uses. Home repair, health and fitness, and survival scenarios are all additional examples of circumstances where duct tape could come in handy.
We will give you a few additional ideas below for each of these applications, but this is by no means a complete list of all the uses for duct tape.
- Repairing broken screens
- Securing broken panes of glass before removal
- Temporary adhesion of light fixtures before permanent repair
- Protecting blisters and sores while weightlifting
- Marking punching bags to improve accuracy
- Taping ankles for support or knuckles for rock climbing (really recommend athletic tape for this, but duct tape can be used in a pinch)
- Lengths of twisted duct tape can form rope or cord if none is present (useful for emergencies or a simple clothesline)
- Resealing cans or packets to preserve perishable foods
- Crafting a crude splint or sling or bandaging wounds in the absence of a first aid kit
Wrapping your lighter or fire starter in duct tape or Gorilla tape is a great way to keep extra tape handy for survival situations. Plus, it gives you a lighter and a little extra grip in humid places!
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Simply put, Gorilla Tape is basically a thicker version of duct tape with more adhesive power. They boast that it is at least twice as thick as duct tape and up to 145 percent stronger, while still being able to be torn by hand.
In truth, “Gorilla” tape is actually just a brand of reinforced duct tape that was first introduced in 2005 and won Popular Science’s “Best of What’s New” award in 2006. It is sold by Gorilla Glue, Incorporated, a company that is based out of Sharonville, Ohio.
It is made with three layers that give it the extra strength that you will not find in normal duct tape. The first layer is a weather-resistant outer shell and the second is a reinforced fabric backing.
The third, and final, layer is the adhesive that is applied twice as thickly as it is in traditional duct tape. According to Popular Science, it is that thicker adhesive that makes Gorilla Tape better at wrapping around and adhering to uneven surfaces.
The main problem with making a thicker tape was to avoid the issue of not being able to tear it by hand. To work around this issue, the creators of Gorilla Tape slightly offset the two layers of fabric backing.
Today, you will find variations of Gorilla Tape available in many different lengths and widths. Like duct tape, there is also significant color variation, and you can even find Gorilla Tape in camouflage, white, and clear.
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Gorilla Tape can be used for all the same purposes that you would use traditional duct tape, and then some. However, Gorilla Tape is better for outdoor repairs that are going to be subject to the elements.
This includes things like patching tears on down jackets, repairing torn tarps or kayak spray skirts, and fixing tent seams. Generally, Gorilla Tape is better for repairs that require a more hearty product than your average duct tape.
This includes sticking to rougher surfaces that duct tape won’t adhere to quite as well. Examples include carpet, brick, vinyl, rugs, and other types of flooring. It works for repairing shoes and sticks well to rubber surfaces.
Gorilla Tape is also great for patching inflatable paddleboards or kayaks and it can be used for repairing kayak cockpit covers. Other examples of Gorilla Tape uses include a part retriever for mechanical work, holding wood together in place of clamps, and some people have even utilized an unused roll of Gorilla Tape as a desk cup holder!
The one downside of Gorilla Tape for certain uses has to do with just how powerful its adhesive is. For example, we used Gorilla Tape to temporarily secure something to an outdoor railing last weekend and it wound up removing the paint on the railing when we took it off.
Many reviewers have also been quick to point out that Gorilla Tape isn’t the most fun thing to remove if you use it on your body. This makes it less than ideal for things like protecting blisters or wrapping ankles.
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You have probably already guessed at some of the key differences between duct tape and Gorilla Tape because we have hinted at them above. Let’s make things clear by highlighting the major differences between these two adhesive products.
The first, and arguably most important difference between these two tapes is that Gorilla Tape tends to stick a lot firmer and a lot longer than traditional duct tape. That’s because of the thicker adhesive used in its manufacturing process.
If you really need something to stick for a while and it is going to be exposed to the elements, Gorilla Tape is your best bet. However, if you know you will remove it relatively soon and you don’t want it to damage the surface you adhere it to, stick to traditional duct tape.
Simply put, Gorilla Tape is thicker than regular duct tape. Reviewers say that it is roughly two to three times thicker than its traditional counterpart, which makes it much less likely to tear or break down in the rain.
On average, traditional duct tape is going to be more affordable than Gorilla Tape. However, that will depend on the size and quantity you are looking to buy and also whether you are searching for a specific color.
The rarer variations of both of these tapes will cost more than the varieties that are used more commonly. To demonstrate, you can check the price of duct tape on Amazon and see the price of Gorilla Tape on Amazon here.
Whereas traditional duct tape comes in a variety of grades that help you determine its strength, there is only one “tried and true” formula for Gorilla Tape. So if you can’t find a duct tape grade that is strong enough for your liking, Gorilla Tape is your next step up.
In test after test, Gorilla Tape lasts longer than duct tape when exposed to a moist environment. For all you boaters and kayakers out there, this might be the most important difference of all.
That said, both of these tapes will perform best if they are placed on a clean, dry surface to begin with. So, no matter which one you choose, take the extra second to wipe the surface clean and let it dry before you apply your tape.
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If you are not sold on either of these two tapes, the good news is that they are not your only choices. Let’s go over a few other common types of tape and their general applications quickly.
Electrical tape is a pressure-sensitive product that is used to provide insulation on otherwise conductive materials, such as electrical wiring. It prevents electricity from passing between wires, which could cause a short or, in the worst case, an electrical fire.
Electrical tape doesn’t harden like duct tape and provides much better insulation than other kinds of tape. It is the only kind of tape that is safe for electrical work and it is more stretchy and more easily removable than duct tape (and certainly easier than Gorilla Tape).
Foil tape is a really thin metal tape with an adhesive side. It is meant for sealing metal ductwork, but it is really only best applied to small holes and gaps.
Gaffa tape is actually a version of duct tape, but it is far less common. It offers better heat resistance than both traditional duct tape and Gorilla Tape while also being easier to remove without leaving behind any residue.
You may find that gaffa tape is significantly more expensive than other forms of duct tape because it is generally produced in smaller quantities.
Masking tape is basically a weaker and more temporary version of traditional duct tape. It is manufactured by spreading a light glue over the backing of a thin paper and it is generally used for temporary, non-weight bearing fixes when it is important that the tape doesn’t leave a mark behind when it is removed.
Unlike duct tape, masking tape doesn’t have a cloth backing, which makes it less water-resistant. Still, this kind of tape is commonly used (and plenty strong) for packing moving boxes and other household items.
The absence of a cloth backing makes it much easier to tear packing tape with your hands and it also won’t leave a sticky residue if you need to use it on certain precious heirlooms that you do not want to be damaged in a move.
Washi tape is arguably the thinnest and most lightweight of all these types of tape. It is made from thin paper and generally only used for arts and crafts applications because it does not provide anything remotely close to a permanent hold.
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The answer to this question is really going to depend on what you intend to use it for. Your best bet, however, is to keep at least one roll of duct tape and Gorilla Tape in your supply drawer so you have them both when the need arises.
If you’re not sure that you need the extra thickness and adhesion that Gorilla Tape provides, you can always try using duct tape first. If that doesn’t hold the way you desire, it will be easier to remove, clean the surface, and try again with Gorilla Tape.
If Gorilla Tape is not successful at patching the hole or repairing the tear that you’re concerned about, it is time to investigate a more permanent solution. It should be noted that both of these tapes, much like Flex Tape, are not meant for permanent fixes.
They can simply provide temporary solutions until you have the time, or the means, to invest in a proper fix. If you need something to repair a more serious hole in a kayak, we recommend looking into one of the best glues for kayak outfitting.
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Okay, so now that we have addressed everything we could about the debate over duct tape versus Gorilla Tape, it is up to you to decide which is best for your purposes.
As we have outlined, duct tape might be better for temporary purposes while Gorilla Tape is better for those that need a little extra sticking power.
We hope you have enjoyed this guide to duct tape and Gorilla Tape and the many uses we’ve outlined for them. If you have any direct experience with either of these two popular products, we would love to hear from you in the comments below!